2019 Elections: EFCC stopped from probing plane loaded with cash

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been barred from investigating a private jet loaded with money on February 15 , 2019 , the eve of the aborted presidential and National Assembly elections , Saturday PUNCH learnt on Friday .Our correspondent gathered that the plane which was billed to fly to Ilorin, Kwara State , from Murtala Muhammed International Airport , Ikeja , Lagos failed to take off due to the weight of the money on board .

Multiple sources said the EFCC operatives thereafter stormed the plane after a tip – off from some people about the cargo . They demanded the source of the money , its owner and destination .

The crew was said to have informed the operatives that the money was meant for election expenses in Kwara State , but the detectives reportedly insisted on taking away the cash haul.

Our sources said , “ The EFCC operatives interrogated the crew and they claimed they were part of the government . They also gave a code which they assumed the operatives would understand, but the detectives insisted on taking away the money .

“ However , a phone call came from the Presidential Villa ordering them to hands off the matter and clear off from the scene . Shortly after , armed soldiers took over the scene and the money was transferred into another plane which took off by 10 pm that night. ”

The Public Relations Officer, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu , could not be reached for comments on the aircraft involved in the cash movement as she did not respond to calls to her phone. She had yet to respond to a text message as of the time of filing this report .

In his reaction , the acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade , simply explained that he saw the alleged picture of the said aircraft being shared on the social media , noting that it could have been ‘ created and recreated . ’

He said , “ On the plane – load of cash you asked about , I saw the pictures and we know that these pictures are things that can be manipulated to achieve the purposes by their producers . All the reports from the field are being reviewed and we shall come out with our position once it is ready . ”

Orilade added , “ Let ’ s not be carried away by the activities of mischief – makers ; like the acting EFCC Chairman , Ibrahim Magu said , we shall continue to do the right thing to make Nigeria a better country for everyone. ”

Meanwhile , findings have indicated that the EFCC may not investigate the movement of huge cash in two bullion vans by a leader of the All Progressives Congress , Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on the eve of the elections .

Although Tinubu admitted in an interview with journalists in Lagos that he transported the bulk money into his Ikoyi residence which is a violation of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition ) Act , it was gathered that the anti – graft agency had no plan to probe the incident .

When asked about the money , the former governor said , “ What is your issue with bullion vans in my house ? I have not done any government business in the last five years . So I didn ’ t steal government money .

“ And the bullion van was not said to contain election materials , so what offence have I committed ? I decide where to keep it ( money ) and how to keep it . ”

But when confronted about the matter , the EFCC spokesman said the anti – graft commission had successfully curbed vote-buying in the elections and prevented a repeat of the incidents in Ekiti and Osun governorship elections .

“ You will agree with me that to a large extent, we were able to curtail vote- buying with our men conspicuously positioned at polling booths across the country in the course of the elections , ” he said .